Our "In Conversation" series features long-form interviews with visionaries and change-makers

What do an indigenous ceremony in Canada, Burning Man, and an occupied salami factory in Rome have in common? They are all expressions of the gift economy featured in a new documentary by Robin McKenna.

Robin has worked in film for twenty years on several projects, including The Take with Naomi Klein (a film about workers who take over the means of production in Argentina in the wake of an economic collapse). Drawing inspiration from Lewis Hyde’s book, The Gift, Robin McKenna set out to chronicle gift cultures around the world that are challenging the logic of global capitalism. The result is her first feature-length documentary — GIFT, which is out now in theaters across the United States and Canada.

Is localization a solution to the crisis of capitalism? Listen to our interview with economist Helena Noberg-Hodge. It's often said that the economic system is rigged. The truth, however, is that the system is working exactly as it was designed to. Those in power, whether they hold public office or whether they sit in the boardroom of a multi-billion dollar international corporation, have taken great lengths to set up a system of rules that benefit them and maintain the status quo.

Helena Norberg-Hodge, a pioneer of the New Economics movement, has spent many years studying the driving forces behind why our economies are failing us, and what we can do about it. Helena’s perspectives are informed by a systems thinking and colored by the many years she spent in Ladakh, part of the larger region of Kashmir, where she watched global capital completely transform entire communities.

The dark shadow of Silicon Valley is growing longer everyday, covering more and more of the globe and spreading not just technology, but a particular value set as well. In his new book, Keith A. Spencer goes further than just picking on a few high profile companies and lays out an argument for why Silicon Valley, at its core, is a highly exploitative and problematic industry. With a look at the tech world from the vantage point of the marginalized and oppressed—those who have not benefited from the incredible wealth bubbling up in the valley—"A People’s History of Silicon Valley: how the tech industry exploits workers, erodes privacy, and undermines democracy," presents a damning thesis for why this new world of addictive gadgets and union-busting is increasingly undemocratic and dangerous.

For the last 150,000 or so years of human evolution, not a whole lot changed. That is, until about 10,000 years ago, when in the blink of an eye we began organizing societies in very, very different ways. What happened? The answer has something to do with agriculture...and ants.

 

We spoke with Lisi Krall about her eclectic research that has brought together an odd mix of disciplines and a lot of uncanny comparisons. We also explored the ramifications of her findings, which pose much deeper, philosophical inquiries into the existential, environmental, and economic challenges that human societies are facing in our modern era.

More interviews from our "In Conversation" series 

In recent months, thousands of people from coast to coast have confronted politicians and asked them to take action on climate change. Few of these political leaders seem to be listening, however, and so, in the face of this inaction, and with a renewed sense of urgency, people of all ages and backgrounds have begun taking directly to the streets and participating in mass disruption events in the United States and beyond.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is on the forefront of these actions. XR is a global environmental movement with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid ecological collapse. Growing out of the United Kingdom in 2018, XR now has an international presence. You may know them through their provocative style of direct action which includes intentional arrests, public swarms, banner drops, die-ins, gluing themselves to prominent structures, and more.

Gail Bradbrook is a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. We spoke with her in southwest England.

It’s unfortunate that it’s taking a global pandemic to reveal it, but the unprecedented crisis catalyzed by the coronavirus has exposed our capitalist economy for what it is: an economic system that puts profit over people (and the planet).

In this conversation we speak with Dr. Abdul El-Sayed about our current epidemic of insecurity and how it has unfolded through this current crisis. El-Sayed is a doctor, an epidemiologist, a candidate in Michigan’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary election, and the author of "Healing Politics, A Doctor’s Journey Into the Heart of Our Political Epidemic," just out this month (April 2020). Senator Bernie Sanders has referred to El-Sayed as "One of the brightest young stars in the future of the progressive movement."